There are a number of budget-priced streaming media devices available which can provide multiple benefits to people with disabilities. Devices such as the Google Chromecast and the previous generation of Apple TV provide the ability to display captioned video, audio-described video and also feature a number of other benefits particularly for people who are blind or vision impaired.
One of the best value-for-money media streaming devices is the Google Chromecast. The primary use of the Chromecast is to make it easy for people to send video such as YouTube to your television so you can watch things on a bigger screen than your smartphone or tablet. Chromecast supports streaming from a number of platforms including Android, Windows and iOS devices such as the iPhone and iPad.
The Chromecast works by plugging a small USB-style device into the HDMI port on your television. Once set up, your other devices will be able to use it. While recent versions of Android have built-in Chromecast support, older versions and other operating systems will need to install software on the device to make it work properly.
Once both the device and the Chromecast itself are up and running, the user can go into apps such as YouTube and press an option to send the video to the television. The display of captioned video is supported. Many other popular video apps on Android such as ABC iView also support Chromecast streaming.
For recent Android devices, Chromecast provides many additional benefits including the ability to mirror the Android screen. This means you can see the exact same picture on your television as you can on your smartphone or tablet. This provides significant additional benefits such as reading text on a large television that is too small to read on the screen of your device, and the ability to listen to audio such as a screen reader through the television sound equipment.
The Chromecast usually retails for under $50 and is available from popular offline and online retailers.
Apple TV (model prior to 2015 update)
If you already own an Apple product such as an iPad or iPhone and would like to stream video, older models of the Apple TV are still available for approximately $100.
The older version of the Apple TV provides an effective way to watch captioned video and also provides audio support for people who are blind or vision impaired. However it is important to note that many features on an Apple TV assume that you already own an Apple mobile device such as an iPhone or iPad.
While the recent 2015 version of the Apple TV is at a much higher price point, you can still buy an older model for around $100.
Raspberry Pi with Kodi
The Raspberry Pi computer running the Kodi media centre can also provide an affordable and powerful media streaming alternative. However, significant technical knowledge is required to set up the device. More information can be found in the What’s possible? section.
The Raspberry Pi is available primarily from online retailers and costs around $50 with Kodi distributions such as OpenELEC and OSMC being available at no cost.